Today in History: Rosa Parks Refused to Give Up Seat to White Passenger 58 Years Ago

rosa parks seat on bus 261x300 Today in History: Rosa Parks Refused to Give Up Seat to White Passenger 58 Years Ago

Today in History: Rosa Parks Refused to Give Up Seat to White Passenger 58 Years Ago (Photo credit: Smithsonian)

Rosa Parks exercised a great deal of courage 58 years ago today, when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, en route home from a hard day’s work. Yes, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand that set off the civil rights movement and still reverberates today. Some say that it was part of a planned series of actions. I say it was selfless and an act of bravery and determination to buck the status quo.

Even now, as he looks over Parks’ police report and fingerprints, [William] Pretzer, a senior curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, is struck by the banality of the documents. “There is nothing that makes this event look extraordinary,” he says. “It is being treated as a typical misdemeanor violation of the city code. In fact, that is exactly what it was.”

Yet, while police dealt with the situation just like any other altercation on the city’s segregated buses, Parks, her attorneys and NAACP leaders organized. “Within the African American community, it is seen as an opportunity for progress to be made, for attention and pressure to be brought to bear on the white power structure,” says Pretzer. Source:  Smithsonian Magazine

Many of our young people, and some adults, don’t grasp the magnitude of her actions and how it helped to make life better for us today. Rosa Parks’ act of defiance inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as our civil rights leader. The bus boycott lasted 381 days. On the 382nd day, the city’s buses were officially integrated, with the backing of the US Supreme Court.

 

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 Today in History: Rosa Parks Refused to Give Up Seat to White Passenger 58 Years Ago
Janet Shan is a freelance journalist and managing editor of the Hinterland Gazette, who is working on her first novel, a mystery based in the hills on Montego Bay.